This is about is issue of “forgiveness,” and its companion matter “reconciliation.”
In the last three blog posts, I have been commenting of how we are to wait on the Lord for the answers to our prayers, in light of the fact that the Lord has an ultimate plan that must await His perfect timing. We wait on God and renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31); God waits on us to be gracous to us (Isaiah 30:18). We are directed to “wait on the Lord” scores of times in Scripture.
I had a friend in Oregon tell me this week that the greatest activity we can undertake in advancing the Kingdom of Christ is to wait. Actively wait! Yes, wait in faith, in hope, and rest.
Now, let’s reverse direction and ask a companion question: When should we NOT wait?
I offer that one matter that requires action without delay is forgiveness.
We need not wait on the Lord for this. We must take action, and right now. In fact, God’s blessing and answers to prayer may await our proactive initiative to forgive and be open to reconciliation. Let’s let Jesus be our teacher on the issue of forgiveness.
Jesus taught us to pray, “. . . And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . . For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:12, 14-15.
Further, Jesus stressed the priority of forgiving others. Do it right now. It doesn’t matter if you are the offended person or the offending person, we are enjoined by Jesus to take the initiative. And that initiative is an essential prerequisite to our unhindered worship and effective prayer. Do we understand Christ’s urgent priority to act now without waiting?
Regarding acting to seek reconciliation with someone you have offended, Jesus said: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24
And regarding acting to forgive someone who has offended you, Jesus said: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:24-26.
Personally, I was reminded this week about the value of clearing things up immediately. Twenty-three years ago, a brother offended me badly. I was really hurt. I struggled to clear my mind and emotions from replaying the offense to myself and to God. My Lord was a good listener, but He graceously waited for me to release the offending brother in unilateral forgiveness. It took me six months of severe struggle until I finally took the initiative to forgive and release this offending brother to the Lord.
Nine years later, in 2006, the Lord directed me to contact the man to reconnect with him. Reconciliation may await God’s timing. But when the time is right, act! Paul the Apostle says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). God spoke clearly, so I acted immediately. Success! We were marvelously reconciled!
Eight days ago, this dear brother died suddenly. He’s now experiencing the well-done of Jesus. And my heart is joyously at peace. I am so glad I didn’t wait to forgive him. I’m so blessed that we were reconciled in God’s timing. The Lord’s grace and blessing have been poured out on me abundantly.
Forgiveness — Give it. Reconciliation — Pursue it. Don’t wait. Do it now. God will bless you for it.